The documents include substantial detail about the travel of the detainees.
According to the New York Times, the documents show that most of the 172 prisoners still held at Guantanamo have been rated as a "high risk" of posing a threat to the United States and its allies if released without adequate rehabilitation. But they also show that many others who have been released or transferred to other countries were also designated "high risk," the newspaper says.
Detainees are assessed "high," "medium" or "low" in terms of their intelligence value, the threat they pose while in detention and the continued threat they might pose to the United States if released.
The newspaper says the documents include details about detainees' illnesses and behavior at Guantanamo - including "punching guards, tearing apart shower shoes, shouting across cell blocks." But the documents appear to shed little light on interrogation tactics at Guantanamo, which have drawn widespread criticism.
The New York Times says that the documents lay bare "the patchwork and contradictory evidence that in many cases would never have stood up in criminal court or a military tribunal."
The British newspaper, the Daily Telegraph, also reports that the documents suggest much of the evidence used to detain jihadist suspects was flimsy. It says that "people wearing a certain model of Casio watch from the 1980s were seized by American forces in Afghanistan on suspicion of being terrorists, because the watches were used as timers by al Qaeda." Most were subsequently release for lack of evidence.
Others, according to the New York Times, were not so fortunate despite a lack of evidence.
One man detained in May 2003 insisted he was a shepherd and according to his debriefers at Guantanamo Bay knew nothing of "simple military and political concepts." Yet a military tribunal declared him an "enemy combatant" anyway, and he was not sent home until 2006, the Times reports.
The U.S. Defense Department condemned the release of the documents, known as DABs.
Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell and Ambassador Daniel Fried, the Obama administration's special envoy on detainee issues, said in a statement: "The Guantanamo Review Task Force, established in January 2009, considered the DABs during its review of detainee information. In some cases, the Task Force came to the same conclusions as the DABs. In other instances the Review Task Force came to different conclusions, based on updated or other available information."
WikiLeaks gained international prominence after leaking thousands of papers about the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan. Earlier this year it released a huge cache of secret American diplomatic papers.